On Friday’s Newsroom program, as CNN awaited Barack Obama’s first press conference as president-elect, correspondent Joe Johns outlined how Rush Limbaugh was apparently "back on the radio breathing fire, taking Obama and his now-named Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the woodshed." He then played a clip of Limbaugh labeling Emanuel a "good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug."
Limbaugh actually might not be the first to use the "Chicago thug" label for Obama. The Politico, in an August 27, 2008 article by John F. Harris, cited a "longtime associate" of a certain former Democratic president: "Bill Clinton believes the Democratic nominee, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of ‘a Chicago thug.’" CNN apparently was unaware of this report, since it wasn’t mentioned during the segment.
The short report by Johns, which aired 37 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, aired as Obama was running late for late for his news conference, which had been due to start at the bottom of the hour. It was a partial rehash of an earlier report Johns did on Thursday evening’s Election Center program, which anchor Campbell Brown had introduced by labeling conservatives’ reaction to Obama’s pick of Emanuel "right-wing rage." Newsroom anchor Kyra Phillips made the following introduction to the new report from Johns: "If there was a honeymoon at all, well it’s so over. President-Elect Barack Obama already being slammed by some conservatives as a divider, not a uniter, and what has he done three days in to tick them off?"
The CNN correspondent then made his "breathing fire" introduction: "So much for Kumbaya -- hours after Barack Obama was elected, Rush Limbaugh, known on his show as the man who runs America, was back on the radio breathing fire, taking Obama and his now-named Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the woodshed." He then played Limbaugh’s "Chicago thug" clip.
The full transcript of Joe Johns’ report from Friday’s Newsroom program:
KYRA PHILLIPS: If there was a honeymoon at all, well it’s so over. President-Elect Barack Obama already being slammed by some conservatives as a divider, not a uniter, and what has he done three days in to tick them off? Our Joe Johns investigated.
JOE JOHNS (voice-over): So much for Kumbaya -- hours after Barack Obama was elected, Rush Limbaugh, known on his show as the man who runs America, was back on the radio breathing fire, taking Obama and his now-named Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the woodshed.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: He is [a] good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug.
JOHNS: And it is true that around the conservative world, the selection of Emanuel, who is viewed as a tough, partisan street fighter, wasn’t exactly welcomed as a favorable sign. David Keene of the American Conservative Union.
DAVID KEENE, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: If you are a candidate who says that I am running a campaign because I want to bring people together and I want to build bridges, and then he tells you that he is going to go out to hire Rahm Emanuel to build the bridge, you would have some real questions about it. You might hire Rahm to blow up the bridge. I don't know if you’d hire him to build it.
JOHNS: The Republican National Committee pounced on Emanuel saying, ‘Our nation will be ill-served if Obama runs the White House the way "Rahmbo" ran the Democratic Congress.’ So if you were thinking the country is somehow unified, think again. There are still deep divisions. Just because the president-elect says he’s going to listen to conservatives, they say, doesn’t mean he’s going to govern from the middle.
LIMBAUGH: You can listen all day long and do nothing about it, right? There is no unity with Obama.
JOHNS: But make no mistake, conservatives are not just looking outward at the Democrats after the loss -- they’re looking inward, too. So what was it the voters really rejected?
JOHNS: (on-camera): Was it all about the Bush administration or was it, for example, that the party of smaller government and less spending on the Right had mushroomed the size of government and exploded the federal deficit?
KEENE: All those lines got blurred during the course of the last six or eight years. Republicans in Congress began to act like the Democrats that they’ve gotten rid off in the 90s. The president began to spend money like he was Lyndon Johnson, and the result was that voters began to get very upset. So, yes, you have to go back to your basics.
JOHNS (voice-over): And now, at least two years to think about how to do that. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.